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MR. GEORGE EDWARD THOMAS EYSTON, who during the last few years has figured as a prominent and successful competitor in British and Continental racing events, commenced his practical experience in motoring at the tender age of thirteen years, when, much to the consternation of his father, he became the owner of one of the early Triumph motorcycles. As we discovered during a recent interview, however, Mr. Eyston’s sporting tendencies are not by any means confined to the world of wheels, whilst his professional standing in engineering circles is one that may well excite the admiration of those whose activities lie in this direction.
After receiving education at a Catholic School, namely, Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, George Eyston took up a course of engineering at the Seafield Engineering College at Fareham, Hampshire, an establishment possessing a very fine workshop equipment, modern testing appliances and scientfic laboratories. Upon the outbreak of War, Mr. Eyston joined up in the ranks of the Public School Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and underwent his military training at Epsom. At the end of August, 1914, he was commissioned in the Dorset Regiment, and shortly afterwards was appointed Machine Gun Officer to his battalion, part of his duty being that of Chief Instructor to a Machine Gun School. Though doing very good work in that capacity, Eyston shared the general eagerness to be doing something of a more thrilling nature, and after some considerable difficulty managed to secure his transfer to the Royal Field Artillery, and went overseas with the 21st
Division and took part in the Battle of Loos in 1915. With the exception of three months spent in Hospital after having a rifle bullet through his leg in an attack at Arras, he remained in France until two months after the Armistice.
During his military service overseas he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry on the field, besides being twice mentioned in despatches. He was on the Headquarters Staff of the 94th Brigade R.F.A., and also A.D.C. to the G.O.C.R.A. 21st Divisional Artillery, his other staff appointments included Staff Captain Reconnaissance XIII. Corps Royal Artillery. He also served temporarily with the Artillery Staff G. H. Q.
The Armistice found Captain Eyston still on the Artillery Staff of the XIII. Corps, on whose front fighting continued up till 11 a.m. on November 1 1 th, 1918. Owing to illness from wounds he was allowed to proceed home for a few days, and took the opportunity of obtaining demobilisation by recommencing his engineering studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he passed his examination for B.A. Degree Engineering.
By way of exercise, Eyston took seriously to rowing, and helped to re-organise College rowing, being elected Captain of the First Trinity Boat Club. He rowed in all races the whole year round, stroking his College Eight, and obtaining a seat in the boat which gained the Headship of the River in the Lent Term, 1921, and also in the Eight which was second on the River in the May races of the same year. By going up four places, this boat gained their oars, and he was
elected a member of the Leander Club. In 1919 he was spare man to the Cambridge University crew which won the International Eights on the Seine, this crew, which, incidentally, was coached by Mr. Bruce, now Prime Minister of AustIalia, beating crack crews from nine different nations.
Apart from rowing at Henley in three Regattas, Mr. Eyston achieved victories in sculling in various Thames Regattas. For four years after leaving Cambridge Mr. Eyston was engaged on the sales staff of an important marine engineering concern, and then started business on his own account with the formation of a company for the manufacture of air compressors. A very large range of these appliances was designed by Mr. Eyston for use in connection with industrial machinery, and their
manufacture was also carried out under his direct supervision.
Besides running this business, Mr. Eyston controls a separate firm of his own dealing with artesian wells.
From air compressors to supercharging is a very short step, and the comparatively new development in aeronautical and automobile engineering soon attracted his attention. Professional secrecy debarred Mr. Eyston from allowing much interesting information on the latest developments in supercharging to be published, though we are permitted to state that he is engaged in a consulting capacity on some very important work in the automobile industry. Two examples of supercharging to his design were exhibited at the recent Motor Shows at Olympia, one
being the new Riley and the other the Douglas Motor Cycle. Several examples of the Anzani engine have been fitted with a very successful form of supercharger designed and manufactured by Messrs. Powerplus Ltd., which is one of Mr. Eyston’s concerns.
Motor Racing Record.
Though Mr. Eyston took part in various trials and raced a Rudge Motor Cycle on Brooklands before the War, it was not until leaving Cambridge that he became keenly interested in the sport. His two first racing cars were Aston Martins, one being the O.H.V. track racer, which when driven by Mr. H. Kensington Moir led the Talbot Darracqs in the first two hundred miles race, and the other the Grand Prix racer that ran so well at Strasbourg.
Driving his own Aston Martin in the 200 Miles Race of 1923, Mr. Eyston managed to obtain a substantial lead at one hundred miles, but was unfortunate in mistaking a peculiar type of plug trouble for something more serious, and so lost too much time. As it was, he only just missed third place by a few hundred yards, but tied with Joyce for the fastest lap at over 99 m.p.h.
Mr. Eyston has competed with success at a few of the crack hill climbs and speed trials in this country. One of his best performances took place at the B.A.R.C.Whitsun Meeting, 1923, when, again driving his Aston Martin against a large field, he was first in two races and second in another of the three races in which he took part, the lap speeds of the car being in excess of 101 m.p.h.
An Adventure at Boulogne.
Mr. Eyston tells a very good story of his adventures at Boulogne in 1923, details of which show that he is at least in possession of the virtue of perseverance. Three hours after leaving the boat, and two days before the Speed Trials, he went out practising on the circuit in heavy rain, and misjudging one of the notorious corners, crashed his car beyond all hope of repair—at least, so it would have appeared. Some villagers, who quite expected something to happen at this particular spot, helped Eyston and his mechanic, Gillors, to carry the car bodily into a farm shed, where, whilst kicking his heels with disappointment, Eyston discovered under some debris a disused pit. This find gave him an idea of getting the car speedily repaired, though it lay with twisted front and broken rear axle, also considerable damage to body, etc. The next thing was to get to Boulogne, some five miles away, and after making unsuccessful attempts to stop cars to give him a lift, Eyston, still in racing overalls, started to run to the coast, arriving just in time to catch the boat. His appearance among the passengers created something of a consternation, for he was still grimed and oily, and reaching London at night, he had a few hours sleep before going to the Aston Martin works for replacements. These were sportingly supplied to him at once, and he hurried off by road and crossed the Channel once more, having as rough a passage by the night boat as is possible to imagine. At Boulogne he chartered a car, and then on reaching the farm set to work to re-assemble the Aston Martin, which was accomplished in time to make a final test in the hours of
darkness. To crown all, he turned up at the start in time and won his class in the Speed Trials, two days later gaining third place in the Grand Prix des Voiturettes Legeres on another car.
In the following year in the Grand Prix at Boulogne he was leading by about twelve minutes, when another car turned turtle in his path, and in avoiding this he got into a spin, crashed a telegraph pole, and finished by being put hors de combat, though he had the satisfaction of making the fastest lap at 62i m.p.h. whilst driving in a heavy wind with rain and thick mist.
Further successes have fallen to Mr. Eyston this year, beginning with the second place in the Essex Hundred Miles Race, a first and third place at the B.A.R.C. Whitsun Meeting on his Aston Martin. One week before this year’s Boulogne meeting he took delivery of the Bugatti, which was driven to second place by Pierre Viscaya in the Grand Prix at Monza. After tuning and some alteration this car was taken to Boulogne, where its owner won the Grand Prix and made the fastest lap. On this occasion the ” bag” included the Regularity Prize, the Blackman Trophy, the Cummings Cup for the first Englishman home, and the gold medal of the A.C. Nord de Prance.
All our readers will sympathise with Mr. Eyston’s atrocious bad luck in being put out of action through no fault of his own in the last Two Hundred Miles race, in which he had a very good chance of a place, but, as he says : ” It is all in the luck of the game.” His Monza Bugatti, however, has since given a very good account of itself by putting up five new world’s records in Class F, namely, the Three hours, the Six
hours, the 500 Kilometres, the 500 miles and the 1,000 miles, in which performance Capt. J. C. Douglas very ably assisted as alternate driver.
A Motor Boat Enthusiast.
For some years Mr. Eyston has been very keenly interested in motor boating, and owns a very fast 1 litre craft known as “Miss Olga.” With this boat he has won several important races at Hythe, Southampton Water and Southend, and was successful in gaining the second place for the Duke of York’s Trophy trials, comprising three races, each of thirty miles in length, on the Thames.
He also possesses a pilot’s certificate of the Royal Aero Club, and has flown his own machine in races, besides using it for private transport. One fine day, however, an individual professing the intention of buying the machine took it up for a trial trip, but failed to return, no one having any knowledge of his landing, although this machine bore the usual identification marks. The general impression was that this person used his knowledge of flying for the purpose of stealing machines, and certainly made a very good getaway in this particular case ; though we believe Mr. Eyston was secretly thankful for finding so easy a solution to the disposal of a machine that for various reasons had ceased to interest him personally.
Shooting, yachting, fishing and hunting are also included in Mr. Eyston’s list of hobbies, but for all that he manages to put in plenty of time at work, which he describes as being ” the most interesting occupation of the lot.”